‘Brother’ to the artsPublished 11:00pm Friday, April 26, 2013
Chapman’s legacy honored with TroyFest award
The adage that one man’s trash is another’s treasure had no relevance at the home of the late Corley “Brother” Chapman on Thursday.
Antique dealers and art collectors gathered to purchase his art, antiques, historical items and collectables.
Just a stone’s throw up the street, organizers of the annual TroyFest Arts and Crafts Festival were skittering around making preparations for the festival today and Sunday.
Several of the TroyFest committee members paused to reflect on how meaningful and timely it was that the estate sale was being held TroyFest week.
“We were all so busy making preparations for the festival and didn’t find out about the sale until the last minute,” said Stephanie Baker, on of TroyFest’s organizers. “Although our first instinct was that we simply didn’t have time in our schedule to go, curiosity got the best of us. Brother had one of the most knowledgeable art collections around, particularly Alabama art, and it was worth taking a break to go check it out and we are glad we did.”
For the TroyFest committee members, the estate sale was much more than the thrill of the deal.
“We immediately recognized so many pieces of art that Brother had purchased at the Jean Lake and TroyFest art festivals over the years,” Baker said. “He was always so encouraging to artists. He had a keen eye for ‘good’ art but he also would make sure that the young, emerging artist had enough gas money to get home.”
Baker said Chapman was a champion for the arts and one of TroyFest’s greatest patrons and supporters.
“When we were trying to establish our reputation as a fine arts and crafts festival, Brother would often extend personal invitations to artists he knew, encouraging them to give us a chance and sometimes even offering his home as a weekend retreat,” Baker said.
“As committee members, we all knew that but it was something about seeing Brother’s collection displayed in his home that reminded us why we work so hard.”
Baker said that in organizing TroyFest, which seems to get bigger and better every year, the volunteers get consumed in the details of logistics and booth assignments and orchestrating all the facets of the festival.
“Taking a break from the rush of the festival planning Thursday didn’t seem possible but once we stepped into the Emporium and Brother’s home, it gave us all a fresher perspective on why TroyFest is so important,” she said.
“As for me, I love art. I love the artists and their stories. For every piece of art in my home, I can tell you who the artist is, where I found the piece and probably a story to go along with it.
“TroyFest has not only helped me add to my small but cherished collection. It has given me friends from all over the country. It was the same with Brother but, of course, on a much grander scale.”
Baker said that, as she picked up each piece of Chapman’s art collection at the estate sale, she knew that Chapman would have a story to go with it.
“Brother loved sharing his art with others and telling his stories of adventure and friends he made along the way,” she said. “And what a historian. TroyFest certainly celebrates both art and our historical downtown so it was a fitting tribute for us to spend a few hours visiting Brother’s home and collection for one last time.”
After Chapman’s death, the TroyFest committee made the decision to rename one of the Festival’s most distinct prizes the Corley C. Chapman Fine Art First Place Award.
“It will give me great pleasure to honor Brother and the juried recipient this year, knowing that, even in Brother’s, death he can continue to recognize artists as an extension of his legacy.”